Packed Crowd Welcomes Mike Posner’s Pioneer Valley Premiere
By Katherine Hillenbrand ’12 and Chris Porras ’12, A&L Managing Editor and Contributing Writer
Amherst denizens were treated to a high-energy performance Saturday night at UMass’ Back to Stool concert. The show, featuring opening acts Paul Markham, Mac Miller and White Panda and headliners Wale and Mike Posner, played to a loaded house at the Mullins Center, lighting up a dull September evening. The enthusiastic rapping of the first two performances shifted to something else entirely when two guys dressed as pandas took the stage and played a series of song mash-ups that was surprising in its contents — it included everything from Miley Cyrus to Lil Mama. At one point they even Rickrolled the audience. A DJ provided a mix of top-40 songs between each act, creating a party-like atmosphere, with much of the crowd singing and dancing along.

Although the arena was sparsely filled during the opening acts, when Wale came onstage, people began pouring in and filling up the floor space as well as the seats. Needless to say, Wale received an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. He had a definite stage presence and performed several songs, including his well-known hit “Chillin.” Unfortunately, Lady Gaga was not in attendance. The crowd went wild when he jumped off the stage and ran around the arena; the audience on the floor grew so enthusiastic that security had to continuously pull girls from the front of the crowd that were being pressed against the railings by the surging people behind them.

After a lengthy wait, Mike Posner, the featured artist, took the stage in an all-black ensemble with accompanying sunglasses. The first artist with a full instrumental backing, his overall sound stood in stark contrast to the rappers before him. He opened with his second single, “Please Don’t Go,” and followed it with a variety of songs from his mixtapes and his recently released CD, “31 Minutes to Takeoff.” An interactive performer who frequently asked the audience to sing along with him, Posner was energetic throughout his set, running around the stage, picking up the microphone stand and dancing while he sang. Still, the minimal theatrics involved kept the emphasis on the music, and the audience responded favorably to his performance — several people in their seats tried to jump past security to get to the floor area.

Although you would find more stringent security at a party at the College, the concert did not have a need for such measures. Without any fights breaking out, the only problem was the crowd on the arena floor pushing forward to get closer to the performers. The Mullins Center provided sophisticated lighting, ample sound and a large capacity for the crowd that developed quickly once the headliners took the stage. The stage had many fog machines and frequently-changing colored spotlights. The overall atmosphere was one of a club, with most of the audience filling the rows to dance rather than to sit; the crowd on the floor never stopped dancing. Although the tight space limited their options, most were content with a collective fist pump. Halfway through the concert, the spotlights revealed that the crowd was producing as much smoke as the fog machines.

While the first three acts exhibited an admirable amount of energy, they didn’t elicit the same enthusiastic response as the featured performers, who were clearly the reason most of the crowd was in attendance. The last two acts benefited from the collective excitement of a packed arena, while the opening acts had to contend with mostly-empty seats. Overall, the concert provided an enjoyable experience for the audience. After waiting for the headliners, they certainly didn’t leave disappointed.

Issue 04, Submitted 2010-09-29 00:39:30